What is cupping?

I have used cupping recently with great results for treating chronic neck pain and muscle spasming tension in conjunction my acupuncture and herb treatment program.

Cupping is a technique where glass cups are heated inside and then quickly placed on the skin of the affected regions; upper back, low back, etc…

As the air inside the cup cools down, a vacuum is created gently drawing and sucking up the skin.

Cupping offers a great way to draw up toxins from underneath the skin and help lymph and blood circulate more freely clearing away toxins while bringing in nourishing oxygen and blood for healing and repair!

Cupping can be use to treat:

  • Menstrual pain
  • Fertility issues
  • Muscle tension and spasm
  • Colds and flu

For additional info you can check out our previous blog on cupping and improved performance with Olympic athletes!


Our most popular but limited promotion for 5 acupuncture treatments is still available so please call the office and book your appointment today and get cupping!

George Huang LAc


Dealing with Fibromyaglia

Today we are discussing chronic pain that migrates all over the body over several regions: neckshoulder, elbows, chest, hips, low back, ankle, and knees.

It can be stiff neck one day and then pain in the hips the next day. This pain can be dull and at times sharp but chronic pain that leaves your body tired and fatigue! In Chinese Medicine, we call this wandering Bi syndrome pronounced “bee” syndrome.

Western doctors will diagnosis this as Fibromyalgia or FMS and often prescribe pain medications with unwanted side effects.

Here we will use a natural but effective healing solution called Acupuncture to address the root cause of your chronic pain or FMS.

Instead of chasing this wandering pain, we will use a gentle, global balance approach to harmonize your body while reducing your pain.

We may also prescribe herbs and add ointments to reinforce and quicken the healing process.

During acupuncture, a group of effective, distal acupuncture points will be employed to move oxygen rich blood to these painful areas; flushing out unwanted waste products leaving the patient refreshed.

Eventually, you will be able to manage your pain and improve overall range of motion by continuing the course of treatment.

By late August, we will also combine acupuncture with fitness programs in clinic with Vintage Fitness to help maintain this balance healthy lifestyle


Acupuncture for Chronic Pain-Research Study

The source of this study is from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Acupuncture has been used to treat chronic pain. Even so, there remains considerable controversy as to its value. The researchers of this study “aimed to determine the effect of acupuncture on four (4) chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. Individual patient data meta-analyses were conducted using data from 29 of 31 eligible RCTs (random control trials), with a total of 17,922 patients analyzed.”

“In the primary analysis, including all eligible RCTs (random control trials), acupuncture was superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for each pain condition (P < .001 for all comparisons). After exclusion of an outlying set of RCTs that strongly favored acupuncture, the effect sizes were similar across pain conditions. These results were robust to a variety of sensitivity analyses, including those related to publication bias.”

The authors concluded that “acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo. However, these differences are relatively modest, suggesting that factors in addition to the specific effects of needling are important contributors to the therapeutic effects of acupuncture.”

Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis.
Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration.
Collaborators (32)
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10065, USA. vickersa@mskcc.org


Doctor Heal Thyself

Over one month ago I was eagerly picking Satsuma oranges off the drooping branches of the tree in my backyard. I was excited to have a big bowl of this delicious fruit in the office to give to patients as they checked out. I had my arms full with harvest and was walking over to put the oranges into a nearby bag when I tripped over a brick and twisted my ankle. Historically, when I’ve stepped funny or slightly twisted my ankle, I’ve been able to shake or walk it off. But this time was different. I couldn’t put any weight on my foot and I had that sick feeling that I did some damage.

I was scheduled to start seeing patients shortly after I fell, so I quickly iced the ankle and then wrapped it in an ace bandage. I hobbled to the office and remembered that my associate David would be there seeing some patients. What a stroke of good luck, as I knew I was in trouble and needed to have my ankle treated ASAP.

So, like a good girl, I had David treat my ankle two times that week and just assumed the healing would take place and it would be better in no time. I did go to the podiatrist the next day who confirmed my fears of having done ligament damage to the outer ankle and also to the inside tendons. He put me in a soft cast for a week and then told me to keep it iced and wrapped.

Since I rarely get sick or hurt, I just assumed after a couple of weeks I’d be back and up to my usual walking ability. Well, a good month or so later, I was still in pain. Not only was the outside of my ankle still swollen and tender, I was having horrible pain along the inside part of my arch and heel. I was having great difficulty walking as well as finding shoes that did not hurt as I am on my feet pretty much all day long.

I decided to go back to the podiatrist and suggest an x-ray since I was in so much pain. He did a few movements with my foot and concluded that there were no stress fractures or broken bones, but that the ligament damage would take months—emphasis on the “s”—to fully heal. His suggestion to me was, (get this): get acupuncture treatments two times per week for a few weeks and it will speed up the healing process.

Of course I laughed because that is exactly what I would tell my patients. I started off right with two treatments immediately after the fall, but I didn’t stay with it. Silly me, thinking I would be different and would heal faster than most people. After the doctor’s wise counsel, I went back to the office with my tail between my legs and told David what the podiatrist told me. We all had a good laugh at the obvious recommendation.

As I was lying on the table yesterday during my treatment, it occurred to me that I needed to share this experience about the healer needing to heal herself. After four treatments and taking the ankle herbal formula, I suddenly realized that I had not taken any Aleve in two days and that I wasn’t limping quite as much.

I am not completely pain free, but I can honestly say that my pain is down from a seven or eight out of ten to a two out of ten, and that it is no longer necessary to take pain pills. The moral of the story is that the healer as well as the patient must follow up and be consistent with acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is a wonderful facilitator of healing; I know it to be true from my patients. I just had not needed it myself until now. It’s what I tell patients all the time. I just needed to listen to my own advice.


Research Shows Acupuncture Effective for Chronic Pain


Of course this research comes as no surprise, but it’s nice to read that the authors of a meta-analysis concluded that “acupuncture provides more relief from various types of chronic pain than does usual care and should be considered a valid therapeutic option.” Research based on my patient base suggests the same results.

During my monthly call in radio show, people always have questions on pain. Whether it be neck, shoulder, back or migraine pain, many want to know if there are other options to hydrocodone, topomax, or even extra strength tylenol.

Part of the problem with acupuncture research is that results show benefits but the mechanism of action is very hard to define or measure. In Western style research, scientists like to be able to explain how and why the treatment works. The difficulty in part is trying to measure an abstract form of energy, we can Qi (chi). You can feel Qi, but cannot readily see it or measure it beyond feeling for it in the pulses. In spite of the mechanism of action not being completely understood, results of this study showed that acupuncture treatment for pain relief was statistically better when compared to sham acupuncture and even higher for no acupuncture.

Many researchers like to attribute the beneficial results of acupuncture due to placebo effect. To challenge that point, I often refer to veterinary acupuncture which started many years ago on race horses who were lame. More often than not, the horses and now dogs and cats, move better after being treated with acupuncture. No matter how lovable and smart our animals are, they do not have the capacity to fake it (to please their owners). Either they are limping or they are not after a treatment. The results speak for itself.

Because it is so difficult to define the mechanism of action, many researchers continue to report that treatments remain “highly controversial.” But to be fair, many results are inconclusive due to poor study parameters such as too few subjects and inconsistency of quality and reliability of studies. But it’s also worth considering whether positive results of studies should be disregarded solely due to uncertainty as to mechanisms of action.

This study however, included almost 18,000 subjects and “conducted an individual patient data meta-analysis based exclusively on high quality randomized trials that their findings should be considered “both clinically and scientifically important.” In addition, their finding of “true acupuncture having significantly greater effect than the sham procedure indicates that the effects of the procedure do extend beyond placebo.” They conclude that this is “of major importance for clinical practice,” meaning that acupuncture should be considered “a reasonable referral option for patients with chronic pain.”

Dr. Avins, one of the authors of the study wrote: “The ultimate question is: does this intervention work (or, more completely, do its benefits outweigh its risks and justify its cost)?” “For acupuncture, the current meta-analysis offers “some robust evidence” that acupuncture does provide greater chronic pain relief than usual care, mechanisms of effect aside.”

For many of my patients, this research will be consistent with their experience. But Chinese medicine will only be considered a valid form of medicine with medical doctors when clinically solid studies show clear benefit. More and more studies are being conducted that show thousands of years of medicine from China as being a consistently effective and safe option of treatment for many health concerns. If you are interested in reading more research on acupuncture, you can look at studies from the National Institutes of Health Complementary and Alternative Medicine Office.


Follow up article on cupping for Olympic athletes

The price of Gold: Chinese athletes left with huge spots after ‘cupping’ therapy in quest for Olympic glory

Wang Qun’s cupping marks are clear to see while she trains at the National Aquatics Centre with just a few days to the games to go.

It might look like a giant case of chicken pox but in fact this Olympic swimmer is hoping her spots will lead her to a place on the medal podium.

Chinese swimmer Wang Qun was doing some last minute training in Beijing with marks left by cupping – a Chinese medicine technique to relieve ailments including back neck and shoulder pain.

Wang Qun’s cupping marks are clear to see while she trains at the National Aquatics Centre with just a few days to the games to go.
The procedure is said to move the energy, or ‘qi’, in the body and is used widely in folk medicine in eastern European and Asia.
It is performed by placing cups onto the skin by way of either heat or suction.

The spots are a tell tale sign of the treatment.

The swimmer limbers up at the pool following her treatment. The technique is said to help shoulder pain which swimmers in particular can be susceptible to.
The technique works by creating a vacuum inside a cup by inserting a flame, removing it and quickly placing the cup on to the body before the vacuum is lost.

The suction anchors the cup to the body and the skin covered is drawn up into it by a few millimetres.

Cupping is an ancient therapy which is said to help back complaints and draw toxins from the skin.
The cups are left on the body while the area beneath is treated and the energy, or qi, is moved.
Mild reddening is common, however this disappears after a few days.

Gwyneth Paltrow includes cupping as one of the many alternative therapies she uses.
A number of celebrities are fans of this form of acupuncture including Geri Haliwell Paris Hilton and Gwyneth Paltrow – who have even been spotted sporting the tell-tale circular marks herself.
Miss Paltrow made no secret of her preference for the remedy when she appeared at a New York premiere several years ago covered in the large circular spots.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041370/The-price-Gold-Chinese-athletes-left-huge-spots-cupping-therapy-quest-Olympic-glory.html#ixzz21pBudL6z

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Acupuncture Cupping for Pain Relief

Acupuncture cupping is an aspect of Chinese medicine that is frequently used to treat pain as well as internal medicine issues. Cupping traditionally consists of placing glass, plastic or bamboo cups on the skin to create a vacuum seal. A glass cupping seal is created when an alcohol soaked cotton ball is burned and placed inside a cup to remove the air. The cup is then quickly placed on the body which creates the vacuum. This is called fire cupping. Another type of cupping uses plastic cups with a pump to create a seal. I have attached a picture of me in China with a bamboo cup so you can see what it looks like to be “cupped” and a patient in China being treated with plastic cups.

Based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, cupping increases blood flow to the surface of the skin thereby moving pain caused by stuck energy and/or removing toxins causing disease. Cupping has been used for relieving colds, bronchitis and other lung conditions, menstrual pain, and all types of body pain. Chinese medical theory states that stagnation of blood is the cause of pain and many diseases. Cupping thereby moves the stagnation (stuck energy) and promotes the blood flow in the affected areas. When the blood flows there is less pain in the channels being treated.

Cups are applied on acupuncture points on the meridian or channel being affected by pain or disease. It is frequently used in conjunction with acupunture since cupping stimulates circulation and relieves pain and swelling. Cupping is not painful, but patients will feel a tug or pulling sensation under the cups as the vacuum seal is created. Successful cupping will usually leave a bruise on the skin. I remember the press going on about Gwyneth Paltrow attending the Oscars in a backless dress which showed the bruises left by cupping on her back. These bruises go away of course, but it is not uncommon to have them.

I like to do sliding cupping on patients with larger areas of pain. For example: sciatica down the side or back of the leg. Oil is used to moisturize the skin and then a number of cups are placed in the area to be treated. Once the suction cups are in place, I will slide the cups up and down or around the painful area, thereby promoting blood flow in a larger surface area. Usually after the sliding cupping, I will then place acupuncture needles for a complete treatment.

Chinese medicine has been around for thousands of years. The ancient art of Chinese healing is time tested. If you are dealing with hard to treat, stubborn pain that has not been helped with Western medicine practices, you might consider trying Chinese medicine. When we help patients that can only be given drugs by their doctors, it speaks loudly to the power of the needle. Give it a try.


Acupuncture for Migraines Provides Significant Benefits

As I’ve written before, I really enjoy treating migraines and headaches because I used to suffer from headaches for many years. When patients respond so well and so quickly to acupuncture to reduce or eliminate headaches, it’s a wonderful feeling for me. It’s a daily reminder that I really love what I do.

Since many health care practitioners and patients alike are curious about research in the area of Chinese medicine, I thought I would reprint this article from Acupuncture Today.  In reality, there’s a lot of research being done on the efficacy of acupuncture and one only needs to search under complementary medicine under the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to see all the articles.

Acupuncture Provides Significant Benefits for Migraine Patients

by Michael Devitt

A new report published in the online version of the British Medical Journal has found that acupuncture is a useful, cost-effective treatment for chronic headaches, particularly migraines. The report found that over a 12-month period, headache patients who received regular acupuncture sessions reported fewer headaches, had a higher quality of life, missed fewer days from work, used less medication, and made fewer visits to a general practitioner than patients given standard treatment for headaches.

The research was conducted at a series of single acupuncture practices and general practices in Wales and Great Britain. In the study, the authors recruited 401 patients who suffered from chronic headaches, predominantly migraine headaches. The patients were randomized to receive either acupuncture or “usual care” from a general practitioner. In the acupuncture group, subjects standard care for headaches, and were also treated with acupuncture up to 12 times over a three-month period. Treatment patterns were individualized to each patient, and different points were used based on the discretion of the acupuncturist providing care. In the usual care group, patients received standard headache care from their general practitioner, but were not referred out for acupuncture.

At various times throughout the study, patients used a daily diary to track the frequency and severity of headache pain, and any related medication use. Headache severity was measured four times a day on a six-point scale, with the total summed to give a headache score. In addition, the patients completed the SF 36 Health Status Questionnaire at the start of the study, and at three months and 12 months after treatment. Patients also completed a series of questionnaires every three months that monitored use of different headache treatments, days missed from work due to illness, and other usual activities.

Initially, there was not much difference between patients in either group. By the 12-month interval, however, striking differences were noted in terms of frequency of headache, doctor visits and medication use:

  • Patients given acupuncture had an average of 1.8 less days with headaches over the first four weeks of the study compared to the control group. When projected over 52 weeks, the authors estimated that acupuncture would result in an average 22 fewer days of headaches per year.
  • The effects of acupuncture appeared to be long-lasting. At the start of treatment, the average weekly headache score among acupuncture patients was 24.6. Three months after the start of the study, the average score had dropped to 18.0; at 12 months, it had dropped by more than 34 percent, to 16.2. In the standard care patients, weekly headaches scores dropped only 16 percent over the course of the year.
  • Results from the SF-36 questionnaire showed significant benefits for acupuncture patients in terms of physical role functioning, energy levels and changes in health. Over the course of a year, physical role functioning, energy and health change scores increased an average of 9.6, 7.4 and 10.3 points, respectively, for those in the acupuncture group. These scores also increased in usual care patients, but at much lower levels.
  • Acupuncture patients used an average of 15 percent less medication to treat headaches than patients receiving only usual care. They also made 26 percent fewer visits to a general practitioner, and missed fewer days from work due to sickness.

“Acupuncture in addition to standard care results in persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine, compared with controls,” the researchers commented. “We also found improvements in quality of life, decreases in use of medication and visits to general practitioners, and reductions in days off sick.”

In their conclusion, the researchers admitted they could not rule out the occurrence of a placebo effect, as the study did not include a sham acupuncture group. In addition, since the patients knew which treatment group they were assigned to, there remained the possibility that patients could give somewhat biased assessments of their treatments. However, the authors noted that the results of their study were similar to results seen in blinded, placebo-controlled trials, which “provides further evidence that bias does not completely explain the apparent effects of acupuncture.”

The authors recommended that their findings should be taken into account by policymakers when assessing the most cost-effective ways of treating patients. They also called for an expansion of acupuncture services for the treatment of chronic headaches in the National Health Service, which provides health care to millions of Britons each year.

In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Mike Cummings, the medical director for the British Medical Acupuncture Society, called the study “innovative” and agreed with the authors’ assertions.2

“It is very positive for us,” he said of the research. “This should help to lift acupuncture out of what is seen to be alternative to mainstream medicine É It should be made available in primary care to treat pain and to prevent costly referrals to hospitals.”


1. Vickers AJ, Rees RW, Zollman CE, et al. Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomized trial. British Medical Journal Online First; doi:10.1136/bmj.38029.421863.EB. Published March 15, 2004. Available at www.bmj.com.

2. Acupuncture beats headache pain. BBC News, March 15, 2004.

Reposted with permission from Acupuncture Today

If you suffer from headaches or migraines, or know of anyone who does, encourage them to give acupuncture a try. It’s really a great way to manage or eliminate headaches and migraines without the side effects of drugs.


Digestion Issues and Acupuncture in Houston

Good digestion is key to good health. If you think about what takes place during digestion, it is important for food (aka fuel, aka nutrition) to be broken down and absorbed properly in order for our body to get what it needs from our food intake. When our digestive processes are disturbed we miss out on the health benefits from the food we eat. Digestion issues like constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, nausea, crohns and colitis affect our overall health because our bodies are not working well enough to ulitlize the nutrition from the food we eat. The good news is that quite frequently acupuncture can help manage or resolve many digestion problems.

My recent trip to China was an eye opener. Digestive problems like gastritis was very common place. General complaints of stomach discomfort seemed almost universal, whether it was in the internal medicine, gynecology or pain clinics I attended. The doctors used mainly herbal formulas to treat digestive issues, although it was also addressed along with other complaints in the acupuncture clinics.

During my three week stay in China, there were people everywhere, everyplace. It was very crowded. Millions of people in the cities (23 million in Beijing, 20 million people in Shanghai and 8 million in the city of Hangzhou where I studied). Try to imagine Houston growing to accomodate 20 million people within the city itself. Think of how we would incorporate all the people, the cars, the pollution, the apartments and office buildings. Imagine driving with cars, buses, bicycles and motor bikes coming in all directions paying little attention to traffic lights, order or lanes in the street. Your hands would be gripping the steering wheel while focusing on avoiding someone on a bike or another car. In short, it is a very stressful way of life.

In my practice, I have seen how stress affects digestion. Stress can create a blockage in liver energy which disrupts the actions of the liver, spleen and stomach energy. When these channels are disturbed, it can cause the stomach energy to rebel making it flow or move upwards toward the esophagus (ie-gastritis, reflux), rather than the normal path of downward to the intestines (normal BM’s). Stress can also deplete our spleen energy causing us to feel tired, sluggish, bloated and swollen. The liver energy that becomes stuck can cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain, irregular bowel movements and depression. In addition, it is quite common to see concurrent issues of sleep problems, anxiety, low energy and high blood pressure along with digestive problems.

If any of this sounds or feels familiar, you are not alone. If you have struggled with digestive issues, acupuncture might just be what you need to resolve or reduce your problems. When all that Western medicine can do is give you drugs to work on the symptoms, remember that acupuncture may very well have an explanation that does not equate with Western terminology. That results in addressing the problem, even if it has been a life long issue. The bottom line is, if nothing else has worked, you have nothing to lose. Try acupuncture. The worst case scenario is that you feel less stressed. Not too bad…


Some Observations on Healthcare from Training in China

I just returned last week from three weeks in China. The last two weeks were spent shadowing doctors and observing treatment strategies for various problems. The clinics in the hospitals I went to mainly were in the departments of gynecology, internal medicine, pain and gastroenterology. Some of the many medical problems I observed included: chronic and acute body pain, migraines and headaches, dizziness and vertigo, depression, gynecological issues including fibroids, cysts & painful menstruation, various digestive problems including gastric pain, reflux and gastritis.

It was interesting to watch the various approaches, both herbal and acupuncture. Most of the doctors of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) do either one. I was told there is a pretty clear boundary on these areas. I would imagine it might be different in other parts of China however. In order to practice in Texas, we are required to be Board Certified in both Chinese Herbal Medicine as well as in Acupuncture.

In general, patients tend to respond better when both acupuncture and herbal medicine is prescribed. But it does depend on the condition and the number of Western prescriptions a patient takes.

I found the general population seeking medical care at the TCM clinics of two types. Those who only believe in Chinese medicine (and consequently don’t go to Western style MD’s) and those who tried Western medicine but didn’t like the effects of the drugs on their bodies. It was interesting to note that there seemed to be a larger percentage of younger men who were having strokes in China. My guess is that many of them did not go to Western doctors to monitor blood pressure or cholesterol. ( I maintain my mantra that if you get the best of Western and Chinese, you can have really good healthcare).

There were a few glaring observations that I would like to share. We in the USA are very blessed to have good healthcare and healthcare facilities. As broken as some people think it is, it is wonderful in comparison to healthcare in other parts of the world. We have requirements for cleanliness, proper disposal of trash and needles, disinfecting exam tables and surrounding areas, washing hands and sterilizing equipment, to name a few. We have the right to meet with the acupuncturist, doctor or nurse privately. We would never tolerate having five patients waiting in the same room listening until it is their time to meet with the doctor. We expect that the health care provider will use clean needle technique when giving a treatment or injection. We take these “little things” for granted and would be appalled if it would not be the case when we visit our doctor. The TCM doctors I observed were good doctors. They had different styles and philosophies about treating the different problems but they were all trained doctors of Chinese medicine. The patients were completely willing to submit to the treatment strategies the doctors recommended and there were very few, if any, questions asked…

With all the above said, I have to say that the doctors see a lot of patients every day. There is a waiting line out the door. Which means that patients feel they get better whent they see the doctor. Although it would not seem up to our “sanitary standards,” there is a cultural understanding that this is sufficient. Patients need healthcare and they get it in the manner they know and are accustomed to. Through my interpreter, patients responded that they like coming to the clinics and they like getting their acupuncture and/or herbal prescriptions. They say it helps and they feel better. I guess at the end of the day, that’s what we all want when we go to the doctor.